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InContext / An inside look at the business of digital content

How Kumu’s Roland Ros partners with media companies for commerce and community

August 13, 2020 | By Peggy Anne Salz, Founder and Lead Analyst – Mobile Groove @peggyanne

Global interactive platforms such as TikTok may strike a chord with younger audiences. Still, they miss the opportunity to drive hyper-local content and shape tight-knit transnational communities. It’s a significant and growing gap that Kumu, a Filipino-centric social app and livestreaming platform, seeks to fill with customized content channels. The combination of communication, commerce, and community allows fans to interact and purchase products while watching their favorite livestreamers.

It’s a smart move when platforms everywhere on the planet are forging relationships to become Super Apps. But content will be the factor that sets some of these Super Apps apart. By cultivating relationships with media companies and content creators, they can reach audiences with entertaining content that inspires lasting passion, not just one-off purchases.

It’s a blueprint that makes business sense for companies lining up to engage Internet-addicted populations in emerging markets. Boston Consulting Group’s Center for Customer Insight forecasts that Internet users in emerging markets, which include India, Indonesia, Kenya, Morocco Nigeria and the Philippines, will contribute 3x the number of new Internet users compared to developed markets. It’s a young community that will engage in “digitally influenced” content. They’ll also make purchases worth a whopping $4 trillion by 2022.

Continuing our series of DCN video interviews, I talk to Roland Ros. Ros founded Kumu, a livestreaming app that counts a community of more than 5 million GenZ and Millennial Filipinos spread across more than 50 countries. Kumu recently raised $5 million in a Series A funding round led by an impressive mix of investors including OpenSpace Ventures, Summit Media, and Philippines-based media conglomerate ABS-CBN. We discuss the importance of trusted conversations and the efforts of media companies, including Cosmopolitan and Esquire, to unlock the creative and commercial potential of its growing and global audience.

Here are three key takeaways from our talk:

Power community-driven commerce with authenticity and positivity

Younger audiences are eager to participate (and purchase) on platforms that make them feel involved and accepted. “GenZ and Millenials are tired of the social anxiety that comes with pretending life is perfect,” Ros explains. Authenticity has replaced attention as members no longer value millions of likes or hundreds of thousands of followers. The payoff is positivity, he says.  Kumu’s “Kumunity” appreciates “microtransactions and virtual gifts that simply say ‘thank you’ for the content you create.”

Segment according to journeys, not customers

Ros encourages companies to rewrite the marketing playbook to emphasize the “aha” moments that keep audiences everywhere hooked. To pinpoint these events, he relies on CleverTap to track behaviors, patterns and architect a customer journey to make each member feel like an individual. “The logic has to be clean: if this, then that.” Building these capabilities has allowed Kumu to reach “month four retention rates in the 40% range,” he says.

Micro-influencers have a massive impact

Ros reveals the fastest-growing business on the Kumu platform is driven by influencers and creators on the platform talking about their passions and interests. This realization has prompted him to partner with media companies to launch “the concept of an interactive social television network,” amplifying the content and content creators the community loves.

Ros also talks about blending content and commerce to pave the way for “Super Social Apps” fueled by connection and microtransactions. He also lifts a lid on the best practices that allow Kumu and its partners to reach “up to 10%” conversion rates for livestreaming commerce on the platform. 

Watch the full interview:

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